Monday, August 26, 2013

I will go and do according to His own will and timing

Oi familia!

So, things are still flat here in Kansas.  This past week has been, interesting, to say the least, but it has been good.  I'm still living well and doing what I can to serve the Lord here in Kansas.  No news on the visa, but I'm not super worried about it. It will get here when it gets here according to the will of the Lord.  I'm learning quickly that the Lord has his own plan for us and is in the details. If things don't go according to plan, it's because the Lord has better plans for us. 

Essentially, our biggest problem this week has been transportation.  Due to the huge influx of new missionaries zones have had to be split, more zone leaders had to be called, and zone leaders are required to have a car. Not a problem, until Elder Sutherland was instructed to take our car with him until the mission gets new ones. So, we don't have a car and our area covers 2100 square miles.  One way or another, this past week has helped me to learn a lot.  We've really had to rely upon the Lord that our plans will go through.  My motto for the week has been 1 Nephi 3:7.  It's a fairly famous scripture that talks about how the Lord always prepares us a way to accomplish what he commands us.  It hasn't been easy coordinating rides, making visits, planning, and generally trying to be a good missionary, but I'm quickly learning that if we aren't able to do something or get somewhere, there is a reason for it.  

Last night was a perfect example.  We had returned from church and had lunch and it was about 3:30 by this point.  We had planned to go to Harper (about 15 miles away) and proselyte there.  We had a decent list of names that would have filled the entire rest of the day.  We had received a suggestion from the Bishopric that we should request rides from less-actives to try and bolster them as well as get us moving from city to city. We called one who could bring us back home, but we couldn't find one to take us there.  We went over the lists of names we had of people around the area and none of them were available to get us to Harper.  The day before we discovered an extra bike in the Brundage's shed and I'd used that, but we simply didn't have the time to bike to Harper and back.  Frustrated, we knelt and prayed and asked the Lord for a way to accomplish our plans.  After we had ended, my companion said "Well, how about we go and see the names we have here in Argonia, then we'll come back and see if we can get a ride then?"  We only had two names to see, but I didn't have a better idea so we went for it. The first guy is an investigator named Richard who I may have talked about before.  We dropped by him.  Both cars were there, we heard him in the house, we knocked three separate times, no answer.  Then we went to see Troy. Troy had no real interest in joining or learning about the church, but asked us to drop by every once in a while, so we figured we would today.  We got there and he sat and talked with us.  He said he was kind of in a weird mood (translation: buzzed) so he would sit and talk with us.  We began teaching about the Restoration and he would disagree here, and disagree there but over time you could tell that he was beginning to open up.  He began talking about how he had a terrible week and everything that had made it terrible. We talked with him for almost two hours and finally determined that he felt he had been abandoned by God.  We testified to him that we were messengers sent to comfort him and that we were not only here as messengers but as friends.  It was amazing to see the change in him as he opened up to our message.  He may not be baptized, but for nothing else, he needed to know he was loved.  We returned home and had an hour left to proselyte after dinner.  We never made it to Harper yesterday, but I know there was a good reason for it.  Troy needed to know that he was a son of God.

Kansas is still good.  Flat.  Dry.  Hot.  Humid. Wonderful. Fantastic. My temporary mission.  Being a missionary has been exceedingly challenging, especially this past week, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

Ate mais! Eu vos amamos! (turns out I was saying it wrong)

Elder Evans  

Monday, August 19, 2013

One transfer, one baptism, lots of firsts

Oi familia!

Wow, can't believe that a whole transfer has gone by.  At times I can, at times I can't, but one way or another, it's been a whole transfer (almost) in the field.  Nuts.  Anyway, some changes are being made.  My companion got a call last night from President Bell informing him that he was being made a Zone Leader in the Wichita Zone so he'll be leaving me *sniff*.  My new companion is Elder Motes.  Never met him before, but Elder Sutherland says good things about him so I have hopes.  I'm still here in the Wellington Ward for another six so we'll see what happens.  No news yet on my visa.  I received a nice e-mail from the Mission Travel department informing me that my visa had not yet arrived and they were grateful for my service in Kansas during this time.  Well, I'm just glad I can help out. Two sisters from my MTC district received their visas, so at least we know they're coming.  I guess we'll find out when we find out.

Anyway, Wes wasn't baptized the first time.  Or the second time.  But Bishop got him immersed on the third!  We're pretty excited for him.  He's expressed the desire to serve a mission as well so we'll see where that goes.  I'd be thrilled if he made it happen.  Guess we'll see.  One way or another it's been amazing to see the Light of Christ grow within him as we've taught him.  His progression was slow at first and we were honestly concerned he wouldn't make it.  As we continued to pray about it we kept receiving the feeling that he was ready for baptism and so we continued.  His progression hastened and we've been so pleased with the results.  Elder Sutherland confirmed him yesterday and he said he felt "amazing."  Which, for him, is quite the exclamation.

After the baptism we had a 6-week training conference call with President Bell, the Assistants, and all those who are in training right now.  It was fun to hear from my friends and see how they had received miracles from the hand of the Lord and to really learn how much the Lord is in the work.  At the end of call President Bell asked three missionaires "are you lost yet?"  The responses were all roughly, "no, I don't think so."  President then shared with us the scripture from Mark about "whoso shall lose his life for my sake shall find it" (sorry, don't know the exact reference) and encouraged us to lose ourselves in the next six weeks if we haven't lost ourselves already.  As I pondered that I've decided that "losing myself" is going to require an increase in charity.  I don't know much about charity except what I've read in PMG and in Moroni 7, so I have studying to do!

I'm really learning about the importance of taking to everybody.  My companion has really embraced the idea and has no qualms about talking with anyone.  We don't always get a warm reception and sometimes people just want us to leave, but every single time my companion just testifies about how the Book of Mormon will change their lives and what a blessed miracle it is to have it.  He really wants to be able to save every soul in our ward and I think that is so awesome.  It's really a trait I would love to exemplify and something I think I'll try to incorporate.

Well, that's my week in summary.  I'll let you know about the beginning of the transfer next week!  I hope all is well and I know this is the Lord's work.  I'm so thrilled to be a part of it in Kansas or in Brazil.  The Gospel is TRUE!

Amo voce^s!

Elder Evans

Left to right: Elder Sutherland, Bishop Porter, Me, WES

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

That they both may be edified and rejoice together (D&C 50:22)

Oi familia!

Well, this week has been full of ups and downs.  That's the missionary life though, right?  Altogether Elder Sutherland and myself are having a blast sharing the good news with the Kansasians.  

First off, Wes. He's been doing really well. The house where he was living wasn't the best place to teach him so we started having lessons with him at members houses.  We had a lesson this week with the Maxwells on Tuesday
 about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We talked about those first priciples and ordinances and everything we said he accepted so willingly.  He has been so prepared and I also learned the power of a good member present lesson.  The Maxwells were able to share testimony of how the gospel has changed their lives and how their baptism was something they would never forget. When we testify it's powerful, but there's something about a normal member sharing their knowledge of the gospel that is completely different.  Member presents are powerful things and we had three great ones this week.  One other member present was again with Wes at the bishop's home.  He fed all of us dinner and afterwards we had a lesson that was just awesome.  We talked about the Plan of Salvation and it was so powerful.  To me, it's wonderful to see how the plan of salvation gives us direction along this huge eternal spectrum.  We lived with God for eternities before we came down to earth, we're here for a microsecond in the grand scheme and then we're off to eternities more.  It's amazing how simply knowing that we came from somewhere, that we're children of God and we're striving to return to His presence, and that death is not the end is an amazingly comforting fact of life. We know why we're here! We have direction! What a blessing! Wes loved it and he's moving quickly towards his baptism this Saturday.  

Two Saturdays ago (August 3rd) Elder Sutherland and I were going around Caldwell just sharing the gospel.  We were on one side of town and it was about time to work our way home.  Our car was on the other side of town so we turned and began walking.  One the way we decided to really apply the principle of talking with everyone we met.  As we walked we ran into a bunch of people who would respond really well to the message.  One man named Hank said, "Exactly! The world needs prophets today!" and another family of girls we met said "Well, we don't really know which church is true.  It's had to say, but we're looking for it." We gave both a Book of Mormon and a Restoration pamphlet and asked them to begin reading before our next visit.  This pastSaturday (August 10th) we went and contacted Hank and the family.  Hank, sadly, wasn't home.  We continued around town until we got to Dawn (mother), Cassie (daughter), and Alyssa (daughter)'s house.  They invited us in and we talked with them a little. The man of the house was at home, but had no interest in hearing our message.  I think that will change with time though.  Anyway, we taught about the Restoration and Elder Sutherland was on fire.  The Spirit was so strong.  He knew exactly what points to stress so they understood, he knew exactly what to say and when to say it, and in general just had a killer lesson.  Real teaching by the Spirit.  At the end we challenged them to baptism and the three of them said "I can't commit now, but if this is true, we will be baptized".  So, we have three more on date for September 14th! It was so awesome and such a great experience.  The Lord is truly preparing people all over the world and even right here in Kansas.  I'm loving this opportunity to serve so much.  It's not easy, but it's been so awesome.  I love being a missionary!

So, on the way home from Caldwell that night I was pondering what I could do to increase my faith.  During this time the Spirit really came upon me and gave me three things to do to strengthen my faith in Christ, the Book of Mormon, and the church in general.
1) Really study the scriptures
2) Pray with real intent
3) Come to Church each week with a question
Simple, right? But over the past day I tried this method, I learned that by small and simple means are great things brought to pass.  Sure enough, by really digging into the scriptures I see applications for my own life and how I can improve.  By praying remembering that I communicate with God, I strengthen my connection to him.  As I attended church with a question, things people would say and other thoughts would stick into my mind to answer that question.  How awesome is that!?! Wow.  The gospel is so true.  I love it, and I'm so thrilled to be a missionary.

Ate mais! Amo voce^s!

Elder Trent Evans  

Monday, August 5, 2013

One small step for man...

Oi familia!

Wow.  This week has been o'timo!  I've learned a ton, really felt the Spirit, and I'm generally having a great time here in Kansas.  Still flat, still humid, still wonderful.

We've endured some hardships this week, mostly in being dropped by investigators and potential investigators.  It always kills me to see these people give up on the gospel because it's new to them.  I know how much this gospel can change their lives and what a blessing it will be.  I just wish they would embrace it! Well, that's why we're out here.  To seek those who have been prepared.  We can say everything we want to attempt to convince these people that the gospel is true, but there's really nothing that we can say.  What's most important is helping these people become interested enough that they find out for themselves so the Spirit can bear witness to them that this is true. It's been interesting to see how the Spirit has been working with people and how we're gaining these opportunities to teach people around here.  

Wes is one prime example.  Wes is our investigator on date to be baptized.  We've been teaching him bits and pieces of the Plan of Salvation but one way or another we haven't finished the lesson yet and parts of the lesson haven't been covered as well as they should have been. While Elder Sutherland and I were planning this last week we were pondering about what to teach him and what he needed to know.  As I was sitting there pondering about his needs I got this strong impression that we needed to talk with him about baptism. I suggested that to Elder Sutherland and right as I said "we need to talk to him about baptism because...." words just started spilling out of my mouth. I had never thought these words before or considered his needs like that before, so it was amazing to me to watch as the Spirit used me as a vessel to reveal his needs.  We planned for it and said "well, alright.  Let's get him prepped for baptism"  The next day we went over to his house and started talking with him.  We talked about how he had committed to baptism and what we know about baptism.  How it's a commandment, but also a covenant with God, showing him our willingness to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and always find ways to improve our lives to bring them in line with His teachings.  We talked about the testimony and belief that has to come before you're baptized so you know you're doing the right thing. The Spirit was super strong and we could tell he felt it.  At the end of the lesson we invited him to say the closing prayer and to pray to ask to know if the Book of Mormon was the word of God.  He responded "well I don't need to do that, because I already know it's the word of God and that this church is true."  YEAH!!!!! We were so pumped.  We invited him to pray anyway and he said the most beautiful prayer of thanks.  He's a great kid.  He's still got a ways to go, but I know he can make it.  Here, you have to be clean of Word of Wisdom problems for at least two weeks before you can be baptized and he was still smoking a little before we had this lesson so he basically quit cold turkey.  We saw him on Sunday and he said that it's "running him ragged" but he knows that the church is true and he's going to do everything he can to be ready to be baptized.  We're super excited for him and he knows he's making the right step. It's amazing to see the blessings that can come into people's lives when they embrace the gospel and I'm so proud of him for making that step.

The other awesome thing that happened this week was Zone Conference!  Yay!  In general the whole day was filled with teaching and spiritual goodness about how we could become better people, better missionaries, and better teachers.  The Spirit was so strong the whole day and it was amazing to receive revelation for myself and those I'm teaching.  The whole day was packed with the most fantastic feelings and a strengthening of my resolve and testimony.  Also, I saw a bunch of my friends from my MTC district!  Elder Lash, Sister Sherman, and Sister Tenney were all there and it was great to talk to them again, in both English and Portuguese.  In fact, we had an exercise during the day where we practiced committing people to be baptized and during the exercise Elder Lash and I taught each other in Portuguese.  It was amazing to see how the Lord helped me to remember what I had studied in the past and helped me teach in Portuguese. I also saw Sister Bitter.  Yep, Amie Bitter is in my mission.  She was originally called to Colorado Springs, but when part of Colorado Springs she was in was put in Kansas Wichita, she got moved over here as well. It was fun to see her as well and to catch up.  The thing that really struck me about Zone Conference though was the departing testimonies.  President Bell had those who would be leaving before the next Zone Conference stand and give their last testimony.  As people were talking most of them started with "fastest two years of my life", "I always knew this day would come but never thought it would actually get here", and things of that nature.  Altogether it just reminded me of swim team.  Every year I watched people get up and share their final words with the team always thinking "I'm never going to graduate, I've got forever on the team" and sooner than I ever would have expected, I was a senior, I swam, I graduated, and now I'm a missionary.  I know the Lord gave me that experience so that I know that these two years will go by fast.  I'm here to work, and I don't have any time to waste. This is the Lord's work and I'm thrilled to be a part of it.  I know this gospel is true.  I know the Book of Mormon is the word of god "proving to men that the holy scriptures are true and that God still inspires men and calls them to his holy work in this age and generation as in generations of old." (D&C 20:11) Joseph Smith restored the fullness of the gospel to the earth in these the latter-days, and Thomas S. Monson leads and guides the church today.  Families are forever.  Jesus is the Christ, and I stand as his representative to share the gospel in all the world.

Ate mais!

Elder Evans